Thymic function was evaluated by quantitation of circulating thymic factor in patients with several forms of severe infantile immunodeficiency diseases. Direct quantitation of thymic factor in serum of patients with severe combined immunodeficiency revealed heterogeneity of this syndrome by this parameter, as was also shown by study of susceptibility of the marrow cells to differentiation in vitro. Thymic factor was not detectable in one patient with severe combined immuno deficiency, but was present in normal or near normal concentrations in three others. Circulating levels of this hormonal activity were also not detectable in a patient with DiGeorge athymic syndrome. Following marrow or fetal liver transplantation, which corrected the severe combined immunodeficiency, thymic factor levels either increased slightly or did not change appreciably. Fetal thymic transplantation, which together with fetal liver transplantation corrected the immunodeficiency in one patient with severe combined immunodeficiency, was associated with increase of thymic factor to normal levels. Fetal thymus transplantation alone, which was employed to correct the immunodeficiency of DiGeorge athymic syndrome, caused an increase in thymic factor activity to normal or near normal levels in this patient.
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